Ubisoft Montreal employees accuse studio of lying about work-from-home policies as an RTO mandate begins
There is an upswell of anger amid the workers at Ubisoft Montreal, the developer of such titles as For Honor and Roller Champions. Most employees have returned to in-office work, but according to reporting from IGN, this is occurring under allegations of studio management breaking promises, expressing indifference, and outright lying.
Employees say that the Montreal studio repeatedly assured them that they could stay 100% remote long-term over the course of two years – promises that appear to be the case according to reported viewing of multiple internal documents. However, the studio announced a “hybrid mode” in early June that would require a mandatory minimum of two days in-office work, with concessions being made only for certain employee needs “once all other solutions have been explored.”
This rug pull has caused a cascade of anger among employees, especially those who took studio positions based entirely on the ability to work remotely at all times. Arguments against the RTO policy run the gamut from office noise, to commute issues, to lacking accommodations for specific accessibility needs and working styles, all the way to simply not wanting to be in an office with COVID-19 still being a concern. Employees also pointed to distrust of Ubisoft in general since 2020’s sexual harassment allegations and additional reports of general mistreatment of employees across the company’s swath of studios.
Many employees who spoke with IGN state that they believe Ubisoft Montreal is playing several games with this RTO demand, including trying for tax credits from Montreal and Quebec governments or forcing a soft layoff of employees. “The blog post cited things like ‘Ubisoft culture’ and ‘collaboration’ as the reasons we needed to return to the office, but never once explained what problems a lack of these things had caused, or what steps had been taken to alleviate them before turning to RTO as the solution,” says one employee. “The lack of substance about why we are doing this and how can we know if it’s working has led a lot of people to believe the reasons we are being given are lies and the management are afraid to say the real reasons out loud.”
This immediately brings to mind a similar mandate from Blizzard in February, which was characterized by proto-union A Better ABK as another union-busting tactic and ended up in an employee exodus large enough to cause “crisis maps” to be built to meet post-launch update timetables. As Ubisoft has already been facing multiple problems with its own game releases and flagging sales, a large-scale wave of resignations will likely do more harm than good.